By John McGowan
It was an incredible gift for Laura and I (and Emma as you can see in the photo) to spend a couple of days recently at The Summit Network Pastors Retreat in Raleigh-Durham, NC. We were able to connect with old friends, meet new church planters in the network, and have a great time celebrating all God is doing through this network of churches. But, more than all of that, it was an incredible celebration of God’s faithfulness.
I can’t begin to count the number of times Laura or I have used the phrase, “Can you believe it was only three or four years ago that …” And then we end the sentence with something that now feels like it happened a lifetime ago. Three years ago, we still lived in Raleigh-Durham and were getting ready to move back to D.C. to see what God wanted to do through Restoration City. Jack was only 15 months old. We knew God had called us to Restoration City but had no idea what that would look like. Honestly, we were incredibly excited and incredibly scared!
But it’s “four years ago” that’s been on my mind a lot these last few days. Four years ago, I knew I was called to plant a church but worked for a pastor that was vehemently opposed to church planting. I was watching a college ministry I had built from the ground up retreat from the campuses of our city and close its doors. I wasn’t teaching or preaching at all. Life was nothing but uncertainty, and I had a wife and 3-month-old son to care for and lead. Those were the darkest days of my walk with Jesus. I was tempted to give up on the church, on ministry, and on myself. I was tired and frustrated and felt terribly alone.
Maybe you’re in a similar spot right now. Nothing’s working. Everything’s crumbling. Uncertainty and fear seem to be the only constant. Hope seems so elusive, and it would be so easy to give up on ever finding it again. If that’s you, I get it. I’ve been there.
And I wrote this whole post to say one thing to you: Don’t give up, because God hasn’t given up on you!
He will be your “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” while He carries you through this storm. I promise you, His grace really is sufficient. He hasn’t let go of you, abandoned you, or turned His face from you. Maybe He’s discipling you. Maybe He’s testing you. He’s certainly molding you, shaping you, preparing you. And He promises He’s fighting for you.
While Laura and I were praying, God was working to connect me to The Summit Network through a friend. I called my friend in desperation one day, which prompted him to have a conversation with the Summit guys about where I felt God was leading me. And then I got a call from the Summit asking me to come to RDU to spend a year with an incredible church, raise up a team, and head back to D.C. to plant Restoration City. I never saw any of it coming and never orchestrated a bit of it. But God did.
In all of the uncertainty, He was working. Lining up. Getting things ready.
And I believe He’ll do the same in your life. Don’t you dare give up. God didn’t give you your dream just to taunt you with it. He’s placed hopes, desires, and passions inside your soul because He wants to bring them to life. None of it may make sense to you right now, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t working.
Hang in there. Trust. Believe. Pray.
This post was written by John McGowan. View more of John’s work on his blog.